top of page
Open Site Navigation
Church - First Baptist Church of Monroe, WA Logo

Joining God in Ephesus: A Lasting Impact in a Confusing Place

Joining God in Ephesus: A Lasting Impact in a Confusing Place

 

and the four and the twenty elders were before the throne and they said holy holy holy is the lord

 

god almighty he was and he is and he is to come

 

the whole earth is full of his glory and I agree with the psalmist as he said

 

I was glad when they said let us go into the house of the lord I am so grateful to be here with

 

you today as we formally begin a journey together as I begin serving as your

 

transitional pastor so let me be clear on the transitional pastor I’m only going to be here in

 

limited ways I’ll be here in Monroe on Sundays and Wednesday afternoon and evenings and on

 

other special events like the men's breakfast and the goal is for me to be here as the

 

church kind of adjusts and thinks through and discovers what god is saying and what god wants to

 

do in the next full-time ongoing pastor but I’m not going to think of myself and

 

I’m not going to call myself the transitional pastor I’m just a pastor

 

a pastor loves god and loves the people of god and he loves the church

 

and I absolutely love this church every time I drive from the south up

 

north on 405 and I get north of Bellevue

 

it just feels so good I have had extremely meaningful

 

experiences with churches in Kirkland particularly Bothell and Lynnwood as well

 

as here in Monroe and I still can't believe that people pay me to do what I do in working with

 

the churches and so thank you for that I

 

am especially grateful to the church today because of what happened yesterday

 

at 4 51 pm last July my

Gods Church

 

peer age brother-in-law was diagnosed with the stage four kidney cancer

 

and he was given two to four months to live and the lord saw fit to extend his

 

life and while my wife patty and I have been witnessing to my sister my

 

brother-in-law over the years that was kind of the tipping point that led Shirley and Greg

 

to go back to church after having been out for so many years and I’m not sure what all happened but

 

they fell in love with Jesus all over again they fell in love with the church all

 

over again in fact as much as I loved talking about the church I kind

 

of got tired of my sister talking about how great the church is because the church did everything right

 

in other words, they did what we find in the scripture that churches simply do it was such an encouragement to me to

 

know that while my family is in other places god's church is in other places

 

there's a church in Rhode Island that's taking care of my grandchildren there's a church in downtown Seattle that's

 

ministering to our son Tim there's a church in Lakewood where my wife patty is at today

 

and that people are god are just awesome the people of god are following god according to the scriptures and the

 

teaching of the holy spirit and so as I’m starting this time with you no longer a guest preacher but now

 

uh your pastor with the blessing of pastor dale and by the way I’ve been communicating with him all week and he

 

appreciated the snacks that you sent him off with he did not arrive hungry

 

and uh just thinking about what all is going on here I wanted to start today by

 

introducing you to the book of Ephesians that I want to preach to you from on

 

Sunday mornings until we finish or god leads otherwise turn with me in your bibles to the book

 

of acts of the apostles in chapter 19 the story really begins in chapter 18

 

when Paul says god has put it upon my heart to go to Ephesus and it continues through the end of

 

chapter 20. I’m going to be drawing from the opening 20 verses of acts chapter 19

 

and only reading to you the opening ten verses to kind of set the stage and give you something of a general and a

 

different kind of a sermon to get us all on the same page before we come back next week and dive deeply

 

into the book of Ephesians and so the title of the message is joining god in Ephesus

 

and we always need to remember that we're not inviting god to join us we're always in the process of finding out

 

where god is or where god is working and we are adjusting our lives in order to join him

and what's unusual is that Ephesus was a city of commerce

 

and it was at a crossroads and at a port and had all these wonderful things going on so that literally all of Asia would

 

come and go through the city of Ephesus and here is a city that is known for its

 

magic it's known for its idolatry of Artemis of the Ephesians and into this

 

unusual and difficult and confusing environment the holy spirit says Paul I want you to go here and I want you to

 

make a lasting impact in a confusing place and so acts 19 in verse 1 and it

Acts 1819

 

happened that while Apollos was at Corinth Paul passed through the inland country

 

and came to Ephesus there he found some disciples and he said to them did you receive the

 

holy spirit when you believed and they said no we have not even heard that there is a

 

holy spirit and he said into what then were you baptized they said into john's baptism

 

and Paul said john baptized with the baptism of repentance

 

telling the people to believe in the one who was coming after him that is Jesus

 

on hearing this they were baptized in the name of the lord Jesus and when Paul had laid hands on them the holy spirit

 

came on them and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying there were about 12 men in all

 

and he Paul entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of

 

god but when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief speaking evil of

 

the way before the congregation he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him reasoning daily in

 

the hall of Tyrannus this continued for two years so that all the residents of asia heard the word of

 

the lord both jews and greeks and may god add his blessing to the reading of this portion of his word in

all god's people said amen and so our passion is like the apostle paul's

 

passion that we are about the process of joining god

 

in catalyzing healthy and fruitful leaders and groups you want to go to the next

 

slide there thank you and so it's not what we are doing but it's what

 

god is doing that we get to be a part of and I love that word catalyze you know you won't find that in a particular

 

translation of the bible it's not a biblical word but it is a descriptive word of how god works and that god

 

engages he takes the initiative and he causes a response in the right direction

 

and in a good way so catalyzing makes something happen but catalyzing also removes barriers that

 

are keeping good things from happening right now all of us have in different areas of our lives things that should be

 

happening and could be happening and would be happening except there are some barriers and some limitations that are

 

keep them from happening and what god is doing and what god wants to do in our lives and what god wants to

 

do in the church first Baptist church of Monroe and in churches literally across the nation and around the world is he

 

wants to tap into people's lives and help them to be healthy people and

 

fruitful people and make disciples and leaders that will further the church and further the kingdom of

 

god now there is a difference between being healthy and being fruitful

 

being healthy and being fruitful because you can be healthy and not be fruitful you can be fruitful and

 

not be be healthy my brother-in-law he was not healthy and he

 

continued to be unhealthy in his body these past months but he became fruitful

 

even when he wasn't healthy he died and he graduated to heaven yesterday at 4 51

 

pm and he died well he died fruitful and he died spiritually healthy because of

 

the church people that were willing to reach out to even a sick and frail and fragile kind of a person we just gotta

 

love the church and that's what Paul was doing he's saying god how are you working in our world how are

 

you wanting to work through me and so Paul adjusts his life and he goes where the holy spirit leads him to go and he

 

comes to Ephesus and so three things that we can pull from the opening 20

 

verses to set the stage for the book of Ephesians number one the disciples were

 

corrected the disciples were corrected there's a few words that kind of stand

 

out to me in these opening verses and that is that of the holy spirit that

 

of baptism and disciple making and overcoming ignorance overcoming ignorance

 

Paul comes and he finds these disciples of john he finds that they're disciples of john the Baptist and they have been

 

baptized into repentance but they did not know about or received the holy spirit they had not yet been baptized in

 

Jesus name it's good to be baptized for repentance but when you're baptized in Jesus name

 

you are buried with him in death and you are raised to newness and life it's not

 

just a matter of ending the old and the bad but it's the new thing that god puts

 

in us through the holy spirit and through the scriptures and through the ministry of the church

 

and so these disciples who had not heard about the holy spirit they accepted the teaching

 

they received the teaching and so they accepted the correction and they moved from ignorance to knowing about they

 

were baptized in the name of Jesus and they received the holy spirit

 

of the things that will happen to us in the coming weeks and months I look forward to the times when some that we

 

will be reaching will be baptized and they will be lowered into the water symbolic to the death to the old way of

 

life but more importantly raised to newness in life to be a different kind of a person a transformed person through

 

the work of Jesus Christ and so after this initial encounter the apostle Paul goes in the synagogue

 

for three months with his 12 disciples more disciples are being made but there are always some stubborn people that are

 

outspoken and they oppose the way which is what the bible calls christianity at

 

this point and because of the evil speaking Paul moves from the jewish synagogue to

 

the secular or the city hall of tyrannis and he takes not just the 12 disciples

 

but all the disciples who had been made in that three-month period of time and now there's quite a group and almost a

 

beginning movement in the uh the hall of tyrannis and so for two perhaps even two

and a half years the apostle Paul is daily teaching in the hall of tyrannos

 

our best understanding is that they did work in the morning around noon time everyone did a long european style lunch

 

in siesta and so people would take long sleeping naps in the afternoon that was

 

paul's primary time to teach everybody that was around before they went back to work later on in the afternoon and in

 

the evenings and so he had ample opportunity or an experience extended period of time to see many people come

 

to faith in Jesus Christ and the bible says that literally people from all over asia heard the gospel because of paul's

 

moving around and making a difference don't you admire people

 

who know when to move

When to move

 

I’m a change-oriented kind of person my wife is don't change anything on me and

 

we've had some interesting experiences in our marriage we work that out that I can go anywhere

 

I want in the world so long as I eventually come back

 

she smiles when I get on a plane to go someplace and fortunately she smiles when I come back

 

but there are those that god calls and says I want you to go somewhere I want you to be

 

somewhere I want you to push the cultural envelope just a little bit I

 

want you to make an impact I want you to make a difference and the question that we must ask

 

ourselves is do we move to the right things in the right way

 

and at the right time do we know when to step back

 

when there's such resistance and opposition that we can be more fruitful somewhere else

 

there's a lot that we are going to be learning in the book of Ephesians as we learn about those who know when to move

 

and how to move and so like the disciples of john we want to be thinking about where are we

 

lacking or where are we behind where is there something that's not in place in

 

our lives what have we perhaps missed in the past and as we delve into the book of Ephesians god may be saying some

 

really important things to us including about the circles that we run in are they encouraging us to do the right

 

thing well a second thing that's found in the following verses 11 through 17

 

because Paul was on mission with god because the holy spirit led him and he came to the city of Ephesus

 

not only were john's disciples corrected but the gospel teaching was protected

 

the gospel teaching was protected and the keys from these verses of scripture have to do with the hand and the power

 

of god have to do with spiritual warfare while addressing confusion in the city

 

of Ephesus there was so much confusion because Ephesus was a corrupt

 

magical city they're renowned for this statue of

 

artemis of the Ephesians it was big business in that town

 

there's a lot of money that was made a lot of money that was invested and so even as the true gospel and good

 

teaching was coming into the town the holy spirit gave Paul great favor and

 

great power and many miracles were taking place the people were experiencing the power

 

of god but they were attributed in it to things that were not completely of god

 

they thought that the power of god was not just coming from Paul but coming from anything that Paul touched and so

 

they were picking up his dirty and smelly sweat rags thinking that that's where the power was coming from because

 

they were an idol or just people they were used to incantations they were used to symbols they were used to tangible

 

things god does not normally work through tangible things he works through the holy spirit he works through the

 

scriptures and he works through people largely in the church but they didn't know any better

 

and so in the process of all of this the hand and the power of god is forthright spiritual warfare is a big part of

 

what's going on here and what's going on in the book of Ephesians and during this

 

time there were some itinerant jewish exorcists

 

they were called the seven sons of a man named Skeva and they were in the business of

 

receiving money to cast out demons there was so much demonic and spiritual activity in Ephesus they made a business

 

out of it and so as they made a business out of this they said hey we see the power of

 

Paul and the power of the name of Jesus we're going to start using the name of Jesus and so they started using the name

 

of Jesus to cast out evil spirits but the evil spirit said to them said Jesus we know and Paul we know but who are you

 

you can use the incantation of the name of Jesus and it's not going to have

 

power but if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord that's where the power comes in

 

and so the evil spirit stripped them naked and beat them and ran them off and said that you cannot use the name of

 

Jesus for your name you cannot use the name of Jesus for

 

your prophet you don't use the name of Jesus for your recognition

 

you don't use the name of Jesus to build your business you may not like this but you don't use

 

the name of Jesus to build a nation we've even got to be careful the kind of church that we're building when we're

 

using Jesus name god is passionate for his glory he will

 

not share his glory with anyone for any other purpose his glory is that he would

 

work through Christians and work through the church and work through those who are submitted to him in such a way so

 

that god receives the glory we get a lot of benefits out of it but

 

the teaching was protected that the prosperity gospel is not the gospel

 

the health and wealth gospel is not the gospel the gospel is that Jesus Christ died on

 

the cross for our sins and god raised him from the dead and all who call upon his name will be saved

 

I come here to serve alongside of you I come here to be blessed by you I come

 

here to in a servant way lead you to see more people come into the kingdom of god

 

through their faith in Jesus Christ we must be careful even today about

 

those who would use the church who would use the gospel for their own personal

 

fulfillment and for their own personal promotion be careful of those who would corrupt it because god is always in the

 

process of protecting the gospel teaching be thinking about where

 

are we lacking in faith be thinking about in what areas is god leading us to trust him more

 

god wants us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily and to follow him

 

we're here to promote the name of Jesus we're not here to promote anyone or

 

anything else lastly and in verses 18 through 20

 

because of Paul being on mission and Paul moving where the holy spirit wanted

 

him to move going to a place and doing what he's supposed to do in the right way at the right time

 

communities were directed the disciples were corrected the gospel

 

teaching was protected and the communities were directed and the key words here have to do with

 

embedding and confessing and indulg and divulging it has to do with what

 

happens to a person what happens to a group of people what happens to a city

 

when it the gospel takes root in that place what happens there's a transformation

 

there's an upset apple cart the old things have passed away behold new things have come if any man woman or

 

child is in Christ Jesus and so here the establishment

 

established disciples were transformed and the scripture says that these people

 

who once practiced magic who some were one in the synagogue and some were one in the hall of Tyrannus they were so

 

moved and so caught by the spirit of god they began to slough off and to get rid

 

of the things of the incantations and the magic arts in fact it says in the

 

text that they brought their magic books together and books were quite valuable because

 

there were no printing presses and had the records of all the secret spiritual things that they had been doing all of

 

their lives that had been passed on to them and they brought them into a pile

 

and they lit them on fire and they burned them all up it is a radical turn from one way of

 

thinking and living to another way of thinking and living and the scripture says that the value of that was uh 5 000

 

50 000 pieces of silver a huge amount of money was burned up because

 

people were saying undone with a confusing and a magical and con a

 

confusing kind of a lifestyle and this is how the gospel took root

 

in the city of Ephesus that led to the writing of the book of Ephesians to the church there in

 

all of this there's always those that are going to suffer when there is a radical change of life and so demetrius

 

the silversmith he says guys this is going to endanger our income we're making a lot of money selling all these

 

idols and all these magical things and so he stirred up the crowd and somehow

 

someway god got the attention of the city or the town clerk

 

and he said guys we need to knock this off we need to calm this down we're still under roman rule and they're going

 

to come in and take care of us and do business against us if we don't

 

calm down with this illegal gathering so he calmed the city down

How the city was transformed

 

and somehow god protected the church that was being birthed in

 

this process even by the city or the town clerk

 

it's interesting how the city of Ephesus was transformed nobody came in with an army nobody came

 

in with authority nobody came down and said we're going to force you to do this and force you to do that

 

perhaps the greatest letter of the greatest church in all of the new testament Ephesians

 

is because the people that received the gospel they were transformed in how they lived

 

their lives I’ve always got to ask myself when I think about these kinds of things what

 

has not yet been transformed in my life so that I could have the same kind of

 

impact where I live like what these early believers had in Ephesus

 

we want to be thinking about where is god not welcome in Monroe and what are we going to do about it

 

we want to be thinking about what god is calling us to give up for him and for his glory

 

we never know what it is that god would have us give up that will lead to us being observed

 

and someone else in the neighborhood or at work or at the checkout counter wherever we may find ourselves may say I

 

don't know what happened to you but whatever it is I want to know more

Speaking against false idols

 

I want to know more I may not yet know what you have but I know that I want it

 

as we dare to speak against culture as we dare to speak against false idols

 

as we dare to see changes in our lives and in our neighborhoods and in our

 

community you can bet that the fangs and the claws are going to come out

May we be found faithful

 

but nevertheless like the Christians in Ephesus may we be found faithful

 

joyful not regretting what we burn and give up

 

faithful even though it comes with a price may we be found as those

 

that have something that other people want we don't know everything that went on

 

this is paul's longest time in one place two and a half years or so

 

during this time he wrote the books first and second Corinthians that's

 

pretty cool a great church that got in so much trouble they did horrendous terrible

 

things he wrote that book about what you need to change and make right

 

because of his being with these new believers who gave up their magic in Ephesus

 

who knows what impact you might have that we might have together

 

because of the changes that god leads us to make as we take a spiritual perspective

 

on what it means to be in ministry with god we're joining god

Join God in Ephesus

 

in Ephesus we want to learn about impacting a

 

confused city and maybe god may help us to impact Monroe in a

 

way that we never even imagined we never know what god is going to do

 

according to first Corinthians 15 32 the apostle Paul as he's in Ephesus writing

 

to the Christians in Corinthians he is saying that he is having a lot of suffering

 

as he writes the book second Corinthians shortly after that he says that he's fighting for his very life against wild

 

animals our best understanding is that Paul probably had at least a short stay in

 

prison while he was in Ephesus in addition he made a quick trip too and

 

a quick trip back from Corinth during this time it's not easy to give things up it's not

 

easy to break through old things but when we do that great things will happen

 

I pray that god will lead us to learn from Paul and from the church

 

at Ephesus and in closing so that acts 19 20 can become a reality for us

 

on the last slide so the word of the lord continues to increase

 

and prevail mightily the word of the lord continued to

Message

 

increase and prevail mightily

 

I don't understand it, it has absolutely nothing to do with me

 

that is not false humility that's just the honest truth

 

somehow in the 24 countries where I have been where

 

we thought I was going to be speaking to 50 or 70 people sometimes hundreds and sometimes thousands of people would show

 

up I stopped counting at about 11 000

 

people who made professions of faith there were so many that so many people

 

want to know how many this time how many that times that you're losing the focus it's not about the numbers it's about

 

the hand and the power of god what I can say is that everywhere that I

 

have gone around the world whether it's been 50 people who came to

 

Christ or sometimes thousands of people who came to Christ there was always a pastor

 

and there was always an old man and an old woman who were the keeper of the wisdom in the

 

tribes in the villages and there was always a church of devoted

 

faithful people who had changed the way they lived

 

who gave up ancestral worship and traditions who gave up other faiths and religions who walked away from things

 

it's never been my preaching and teaching it has always been what the people of

 

god have turned away from that god then blessed in incredible ways

 

I’m praying and I’m trusting and I’m hoping that the best is yet to be for the first

 

Baptist church of Monroe I stand on the shoulders of those before

 

me right now I’m standing on pastor dale's shoulders

 

he set you and me up to build off of what he has done these

 

past years I go to churches that are in trouble and I go to churches that are in a really

 

sweet place this church is in a really sweet place

 

god is wanting to do and about to do something miraculous

 

because of the previous pastor's faithfulness and because of your faithfulness

 

and I can't wait to see what god is about to do

 

you think about that as we pray heavenly father

 

it is a joy a privilege and a delight to be here today

 

and what the church in Bakersfield has been to my sister and late brother-in-law

 

what other churches have been where there has been a large disciple-making harvest

 

I pray that you would help us as first Baptist church Monroe to be steadfast

 

immovable and faithful in giving up and moving to everything that you would

 

have us do as we share this transitional time together

 

I thank you even now god for the full-time pastor that will come after me

 

and I pray god that not only will you be preparing him but will you be preparing us

 

by helping us grow in health and being fruitful

 

for your good purpose and for your glory in Jesus name

 

I pray in all god's people said right amen

bottom of page